The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has made a loan of US$8mn to Belarusky Narodny Bank (BNB).

The loan is designed to increase the Belorussian bank’s lending to small and medium sized firms (SMEs) and has a tenor of four years.

Belarus has floundered in recent years, with high inflation, interest rates and unemployment stifling the economy since 2011. Over the same period, small businesses have struggled to gain access to finance.

The EBRD hopes that its continued activity in the region will make it easier for SMEs to get loans and committed €25mn over the course of 2012 to achieving this aim. BNB is among nine banks that are participants in the EBRD’s trade facilitation programme, through which it assumes the political and commercial payment risk of loans made by participating commercial banks.